Getting into amateur radio

Discussion in 'Survival Communications' started by Huntinbull, Jan 30, 2012.

  1. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Yeah, I can already see that I have much more to learn. I knew some old hams in the small town where I spent about 15 years who it seemed could whip up antennas from leftover copper tubing and some scrap pieces of window screen. Don't remember exactly what they used, but these guys were pretty amazing.

    Well, going for my upgrade from Technician to General on Monday evening 11 Mar. If I don't make it, I won't utter a peep until subsequent retests result in success. A general license is in my future.
    kellory, NM_Bill, ghrit and 1 other person like this.
  2. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Good luck with the test. And yes, put together enough tin cans in the right way with care and a tuner, and just about any conducting material can be made to work. Efficiency is a different question.
    Altoidfishfins and BTPost like this.
  3. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Thanks ghrit - been studying for the last few weeks and now I'm gonna give 'er hell, drilling throughout the weekend.

    Then the search begins for a good used (budget) HF rig. Only have a dual bander 2M and 70 CM and a couple of old 450 - 470 Meg commercial Kenwood land mobile radios that I realigned the receivers on down into 440 - 450 meg. (Borrowed an unused service monitor from work). They still push out about 20 -25 watts or so on xmit, enough to be useful with an antenna adjusted for minimum reflected. Have one of them in my car and use it to access the WINsystem network when caught in the construction induced traffic jams on the freeway.
  4. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    You just might want to look at the Callsign Database by QRZ.COM "Equipment for Sale" List in their SwapMeet forum, for some fairly priced HF Rigs. I usually watch the Kenwood TS search on eBay, daily, just to see what the going prices are. TS-1x0 Series HF Radios are very nice, and can be had fairly CHEAP. ($200+)
    The TS-430s are a wonderful Radio, with full Tx/Rx .5 - 30 Mhz Capability, with the cutting of ONE Resistor. Full 100 Watt Tx. going Prices run about $300+ these days. Manual Antenna Tuners are also, available in both places, and a small tuner is usually less than $100... ......
    kellory and Altoidfishfins like this.
  5. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Some of these hot new HF rigs run north of 8 grand. I suppose that when next year's bedazzling model hits the market, this year's bedazzling $8000 model becomes chopped liver. Eight grand would buy a couple year's worth of freeze-dried food.

    I remember back in the 90's when a friend of mine paid $3200 for a Gateway 60 MHz Pentium computer. Within a relatively short period of time 150 MHz models were the norm, leaving his "speedy" new and very expensive machine in the dust.

    A little poking around turned up some interesting comments on the TS430S. Most were from previous owners who were very sorry that they had sold them. It appears that, while this unit may not have all the wonderful bells and whistles of today's rigs, it is almost "bullet proof" (that's good because bumbles are inevitable in my case, accidental discharges excepted). It is also appears to be fairly intuitive to operate without having to reference a book every time some specific function needs to be accessed.

    Looks like the 430 the TS1xx are a pretty good call for a old newb such as myself. Thanks BT.
  6. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Yea, Kenwood TS-430s are a GREAT Solid .5 - 30 Mhz Radio.. Filters are Not to Expensive, and many even come with the optional FM Board. I have a pair of them, which were purchased NEW, decades ago. I also have aquired some of the spare boards for them, as an ultimate Backup. One other Kenwood TS Series radio you may look at is the TS-440. I have never used one but they are the FIRST of the TS Series that has Computer Control. You see a lot of them For Sale, but I have little knowledge of their quality. My Main Radio is a TS-690. Very GOOD Radio with lots of the new Digital Systems replacing analog systems. I also have a TS-450 as a OnLine Backup Radio, which is the SAME basic System, but minus the 50Mhz (6 Meter) Finals and Antenna switching. I will be ordering my new Main Radio, this week. This is the first NEW Radio I have purchased in two decades. I am getting the Kenwood TS-590, which is a complete DSP Digital IF Tx/Rx System. It has a very robust Computer Interface via USB Port, and comes with a complete Software Package from the Factory. Being a DSP IF, it has ALL the Digital Modes, built-in to the Radio. So no external Data Modem is needed. Been a long time coming, to this point, and I see no need to spend more, than this, for an HF Radio, like ANY of the New Icom Radios. The TS-590 will do me just fine, and looking forward to getting here, and operational.
    Airtime likes this.
  7. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Saw the 590 on the AES web page for about $1500. Probably not a bad price for what it does. Don't think anyone needs to pay 8 grand for one unless you're one of those types who just has too much cash, or a bonehead who goes broke trying to impress his friends.
  8. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Yea, those are the "More Money, than Brains" types.... and I am NOT one of those.... I buy Quality, when I do part with my Bucks.... but my Purchases are well considered, long before....
  9. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Heh Heh! Just got back from testing...GOT IT - Upgrade to General Class! BOOM, BABY!

    Oh yeah... life is sweet. Who's yo' daddy?

    Hmm. Now how much more difficult can that Extra Class exam be? Got a GROL about 8 or 9 years ago. Someone told me that many of the questions were the same or close.
    ghrit likes this.
  10. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Wow, that is great news... similar, but you will need to study up on the Digital Modes, and the Extra Bandspaces, as well as some more theory..... Best to go thru the Study Guides.... I have had many chances to upGrade, over then years but since they do NOT issue Advanced Class Licenses anymore, I like the notoriety.....So I just shuffle along with what I have....
  11. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Well done, congrats.
  12. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++

    Congrats. Go for the Extra soon. Yeah, there is a some common stuff, or maybe more appropriately "synergistic material" that connect so do it before you forget much of the General class material. I took both the General and Extra exams the same morning and glad I did as preparing for each helped with the other to probably the 30-35% level.

  13. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Thanks guys!
  14. NotSoSneaky

    NotSoSneaky former supporter

    My son is starting a class for his tech license this week, I signed up with him as a refresher to get active again. My ticket is still good, just havent been active. There's a class for General starting in the fall and I plan on taking that as well.

    Now I need to dig out my old mobile rig and set it up.
  15. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Yeah I've got a couple of guys at work kicking it around. They're both young enough to be my kids. One of them says he wants to dig a little into the theory behind the test questions and answers, which is admirable, especially for this day and age. He's in his mid 20s maybe.

    ARRL used to put out a publication called "Now You're Talkin" that was a pretty good book for getting started. Maybe they have an updated version.
  16. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    In looking at the chart put out by the ARRL that Melbo posted awhile back, it appears that going from Advanced to Extra doesn't really seem to buy you an awful lot in terms of more freqs that you can transmit on.
  17. DarkLight

    DarkLight Live Long and Prosper - On Hiatus Site Supporter

    @Altoidfishfins - Excellent news, congratulations! As an Extra I can tell you that if you are considering it you should do it sooner rather than later. I upgraded before the question pool changed over last year, actually a couple of days before the pool changed over, and information/concept-wise there is a lot of overlap or as AirTime said, a lot of synergystic material. I would go so far as to say upwards of 50% (but again, the Extra pool has changed and I haven't looked at the new questions).

    There Extra is much more technical and heavier on theory. Practice questions are your friend for the Extra but I felt like I studied forever for the Extra since I really didn't have an electrical engineering background. You don't need one, don't get me wrong but everything you had to learn for the General is ramped up for Extra, that's all.

    Overall though, I think it's worth it. Bragging rights if nothing else. :) And I'm still learning. I go back into the books (all three) all the time for one thing or another.
    Altoidfishfins and BTPost like this.
  18. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++

    I have tried several different smart phone apps to study. I like the James Thomas created Ham Tech, Ham General and Ham Extra guides. The Tech guide is free and the other two are like 4 bucks each. I liked them better than a few others I tried. What is great is you have the test questions etc in your pocket all the time. Waiting in the doctor's office pull out the phone and run through a section of questions. Sitting in the bathroom, bored in a staff meeting, waiting at the bus stop. Whatever. Laying in bed for half an hour before going to sleep. A month of this and you'll pass the test, may need to keep studying to understand and internalize the material but you'll get through the test.

  19. Idahoser

    Idahoser Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Too late now for you, but maybe anybody else reading this will get it...
    If you'd tried for Extra while you were there, you'd know what the test was like.
    It costs nothing to try it. Once you passed General they would have let you try.
  20. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Yeah I was encouraged to do that by a couple of the club members who were running the exam. But I was already draggin butt from working an 11 hour day on a large front end loader (used for mining). As for the point of knowing what the test was like, there are on-line practice exams which are taken from the same question pool. So I figured, considering the fatigue factor and the added distraction of a golf ball sized dirt clod that had fallen down the inside of the back of my shirt and disintegrated, that it was better to concentrate on getting what I came there for.

    Besides, they test every month and their exam sessions are free. So I can go back when more study time can be had and after a day spent in the lab, and not playing grease monkey (not related and no offense to survival monkeys).
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